Amnesty? Immunity? Administration Calls It a 'Deferred Action Process'

Susan Jones | June 15, 2012 | 10:28am EDT
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( - President Obama will discuss his administration's apparent end-run around Congress on immigration policy at 1:15 p.m. on Friday. Meanwhile, straight from the Homeland Security News release:

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said Secretary Napolitano. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”

DHS said it will continue to focus its enforcement resources on removing people who pose a national security or public safety risk, including immigrants convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons, and repeat immigration law offenders. "Today’s action further enhances the Department’s ability to focus on these priority removals," it said. (Napolitano was discussing the immunity program on a conference call with reporters that began at 10:30 a.m.)

Bypassing Congress, the new policy sets the following criteria for young people who came here illegally with their parents:

-- Must be under age 30 and have come to the U.S. under the age of 16;
-- Must have continuously lived here for at least five years
-- Must be in school, or have graduated from high school, have a general education development certificate, or be honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
-- Must not have felony convictions or "a significant misdemeanor offense," multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;

"Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action," the news release said.

The new guidelines take effect immediately, and the Obama administration expects to begin taking applications within 60 days.

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